Armenia’s New President to Divert Population from Problems through Karabakh – British Expert

UK, London, 1 March / Trend corr G. Ahmadova/ In order to divert the population from the economic problems and corruption the new President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan will use the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict on Nagorno-Karabakh, the British expert for Caucasus Robert Chenciner said.

"Probably, Sargsyan's Administration will focus on seeking solutions to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in order to partially draw away the people from internal economic and corruption problems," Robert Chenciner, the Professor at the University of Oxford, told Trend .

On 19 February, Armenia held presidential elections. According to the final results of the Armenian Central Election Commission, Serzh Sargsyan, the head of the Republican Party, won the elections with 52.82% of votes (862,369).

According to the expert, another reason for Sargsyan's Government to focus on solving the conflict is that it will stabilize implementation of the South-Caucasus projects and will have great economic benefits.

Professor Chenciner said that Russia will not allow the situation to destabilize in Armenia where the opposition is dissatisfied with the outcome of the elections. Russia has been protecting the interests of Armenia in OSCE Minsk Group for a long time. Destabilization in Armenia can cause fear in Russia and Armenia, as Azerbaijan can take advantage of it for its political and military purposes, he said. " Russia has big commercial interests in Armenia where its military bases are located. Therefore, Russia is interested in maintaining stability," British expert said.

According to Chenciner, Armenia is not ready yet for the 'velvet resolution'. "In May 2005, Stanislav Belkovskiy, the head of the National Strategy Institute of Russia said that Armenia were 'mature' for the 'velvet revolution' as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. However, Armenia probably has to wait until the next parliamentary elections to be held in 2012," Chenciner said.

The recognition of Kosovo's independence by the international community is not a precedent for Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The situation with Nagorno-Karabakh is similar to that with North Cyprus, and no further changes in the status of Nagorno-Karabakh would have any effect. Kosovo argument is not specified enough to set a precedent. The independence of Kosovo is widely recognized by the international community and there is significant NATO contingent that is able to guarantee peace, he said.

The conflict between the two countries of the South Caucasus began in 1988 due to Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Since 1992, Armenian Armed Forces have occupied 20% of Azerbaijan including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding districts. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France, and the US) are currently holding peaceful negotiations.

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